Skip to main content
6:30 pm
6:31 pm
6:32 pm
6:33 pm
6:34 pm
6:35 pm
6:36 pm
6:37 pm
6:38 pm
6:39 pm
mr. reid: ask consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations -- calendar number 44, 144, 189, 303, 334, 356, 358, 359, 361, 362, 367, 371, 372, 378, 379, 380, 387, 388, 390, 401, 403, 404, 406, 407, 409, 410, 41, 415, 416, 171, 418, 423, 242,
6:40 pm
238, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 438, 439, 440, 441, 442, 443, 444, 445, 446, 447, 448, 449, 450, 451, 452, that the nominations be confirmed en bloc, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table with no intervening action or debate, that no further nominations be in order to any of the nominations, that any related statements be printed in the record and that president obama be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: and i will make my remarks on this matter after the majority leader has completed his -- his business today. but i would note that on the last day we were here, november 21, there were only 16
6:41 pm
nominations on the executive calendar who had been there more than three weeks. only eight more more than nine weeks. the republicans were ready to confirm more than 40 who had been there just a few weeks. and the democratic majority changed the rules of the senate in airwa a way that creates a se without rules. so until i understand better how a united states senator is supposed to operate in a senate without rules, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. reid: madam president, i am not going to respond in any detail to my friend -- and he is my friend. there is no way, there is no way of explaining how the republicans could arbitrarily refuse to nominate three of the most qualified people, in fact, four, frankly, because they turned down one woman twice for the d.c. circuit. this is, some say, a court more
6:42 pm
important than the united states supreme court. and the republicans, without any question about their integrity, their education, their experience said, "no." why? because they don't want president obama to have these people on this important court. they want to keep the court with a majority of republicans. that is wrong. it's wrong. and there were many reasons that we did what we did but it was the right thing for the country. it's the right thing for democracy. i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session to consider nominations calendar number 30, 347, 348, 349, 450, 383, 382 accident 384, 386, 434, 435, 436, and 437, that the nominations be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, no further action, any statements related to the nominations be printed in the record, that president obama be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session.
6:43 pm
the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. alexander: madam president, reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: thank you, madam president. reserving the right to object. and again, i'll make my comments after the majority leader has completed his business. but all senate republicans wanted with the d.c. circuit judges was to do with democratic senators insisted on doing in 2006, which is transferring judges from a court where they're not needed to courts where they are needed. i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. reid: mr. president, that explanation is as flat as a bottle of beer that's been open for six months. okay. madam president, i move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 378. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. and the clerk will report the nominations.
6:44 pm
the clerk: nomination, equal employment opportunity commission, rachel feldbloom of the district of columbia to be a member of the equal employment opportunity commission. mr. reid: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion. we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of chai rachel feldbloom of the district of columbia to be a member of the equal employment opportunity commission. signed by 19 senators as follows. mr. reid: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that reading of the names not be necessary tonight. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed, nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: i now move to proceed to executive session to car
6:45 pm
calendar number 330. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed, nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nominations. the clerk: the judiciary. list betting a. wolford of new york to be united states district judge for the western district of new york. mr. reid: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion. we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of elizabeth a. wolford of new york to be united states district judge for the western district of new york, signed by 19 senators as follows. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i move to proceed to legislative session.
6:46 pm
the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. renewable portfolio i move -- mr. reid: i move to executive session to consider calendar 347. the presiding officer: without objection. the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: lander mccafferty to be united states district judge for the district of new hampshire. mr. reid: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion. we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on
6:47 pm
the nomination of landyab. mccafferty of new hampshire to be united states district judge signed by 19 senators as follows. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now move, madam president, to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: i now move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 361. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: privacy and civil liberties oversight board, patricia m. wald of the district
6:48 pm
of columbia to be a member. mr. reid: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion. we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of patricia m. wald of the district of columbia to be a member of the privacy and civil liberties oversight board signed by 19 senators as follows. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the names be not necessary. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: i move to executive session to consider calendar number 348. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay.
6:49 pm
the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. and the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: the judiciary, brines morris of montana to be -- brian morris of montana to be united states district judge for the district of montana. mr. reid: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion.. the clerk: we the senators hereby move to bring to a close the nomination of brian morris of montana to be united states district judge for the district of montana. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the names be waived, madam president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes he appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: i move to proceed to executive session to consider
6:50 pm
calendar number 349. the presiding officer: all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: the judiciary. susan p. watters of montana to be united states district judge for the district of montana. the clerk: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion. we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of susan p. watters of montana to be united states district judge for the district of montana signed by 19 senators as follows. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay.
6:51 pm
the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: i move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 358. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: department of defense, debra lee james virginia, to be secretary of the air force. mr. reid: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion. we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of deborah lee james of virginia to be secretary of the air force signed by 19 senators as follows. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection.
6:52 pm
mr. reid: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: i move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 444. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: department of state heather anne higginbottom of district of columbia tor deputy secretary of state for management and resources. mr. reid: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of
6:53 pm
heather anne higginbottom of the district of columbia to be deputy secretary of state for management and resources, signed by 19 senators as follows. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: i move to proceed to executive session to considered calendar number 406. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: anne w. paterson of virginia, a career member of the senior foreign service classic career ambassador to be assistant secretary of state.
6:54 pm
mr. reid: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 2269 standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of ann w. paterson of virginia a career member of the foreign service classic ambassador of virginia to be assistant secretary of state near eastern affairs signed by 18 senators as follows. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: i move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 450. the presiding officer: the question is on the 0 motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to.
6:55 pm
the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: department of homeland security, jeh charles johnson of new jersey to be secretary of homeland security. the presiding officer: i send a -- mr. reid: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 2269 standing rules of the senate move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of jeh charles johnson of new jersey to be secretary of homeland security signed by 18 senators as follows. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes k do have it. the motion is agreed to.
6:56 pm
mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. on tuesday, december 10 and following the prayer and pledge the morning hour deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the leaders be reserved for use later in the day and following the leader remarks the senate proceed to executive session to consider the millett nomination under the previous order. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: senators should expect the first vote tomorrow at approximately 10:15 a.m.. if there is no further business to come before the senate i ask it adjourn under the previous order following the remarks of approximately half an hour of senator lamar alexander. mr. alexander: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i wonder if i might ask the majority leader a question. madam president, if i may ask it through the chair, as i understand it, there are a total of 14 district judges on the calendar who -- and that the
6:57 pm
majority leader is the only one in the chamber who has any, who has the right to bring a judge from the calendar to the floor. if i heard him correctly, he has asked for four district judges. he filed cloture on four district judges. the way i understand the senate procedure is that means we have an intervening day tomorrow, and we can start voting on wednesday, because we changed the rules at the majority leader's request to make it easier to confirm district judges, there is only in effect one hour of debate on each he district judge. two hours equally divided and if the democrats decided they didn't want to use their hour, we could use our hour if we wanted to, and that there never has been in the history of the united states senate a district judge denied his or her seat by filibuster, not to president obama, not to anyone else.
6:58 pm
so if that's the case, why does the majority leader not bring all the district judges up? let's bring all 14 of them up, bring them to the floor, have one hour of debate on each one. why don't we do that? mr. reid: i tried to do that. the distinguished senator from tennessee objected. madam president, the truth is that the senate's gotten out of wa*bg. -- out of whack. if there was a controversy with one of these judges, you could have some reason to stall it. in years past, we've done it by unanimous consent. now, i think it's unfortunate that this senate has come to that, but that's where we are. now, we could approve 14 of these by my friend not objecting to them. he said -- he's on the record as saying he doesn't think that there should be judges who are objected to, district court
6:59 pm
judges shouldn't be filibustered. but here's the situation. during the entire time we've been a country, there have been 23 district court judges filibustered. the entire time we've been a country. 20 of them have been during the obama administration. so, this is a game that the republicans have played to do everything they can to make obama a failed president, and they are not doing that. he's a very successful president. he has a long list of things he's done in spite of the republicans. so i don't know the point my friend is trying to make, but let's approve all these. they are all going to get approved anyway. so what we're going to do is go through this process. remember -- remember -- i don't know if he's still here. no, he's not here. i saw my friend, the senator from arkansas come through here. he helped, along with the senators whose idea it was, from
7:00 pm
tennessee, because senator frist was the leader. he backed off that, and i understand why, when we had this nuclear option came up before, the constitutional option. there was an agreement made by my republican colleagues that they would not filibuster a judge unless there were extraordinary circumstances. does anyone understand, does anyone not understand why the whole country is upset about this, extraordinary circumstances, look at these circuit court judges. it's outrageous that they don't like them just because they don't like them. their qualifications are superb, their educational backgrounds, the best law schools in america they went to. they all have good work records. but they have objected to them. so, you know, madam president, my friend, who i have great admiration for, the senior senator from the state of tennessee, he has a stellar record, a governor of the state, a cabinet secretary,
7:01 pm
and he's been a very fine senator. but in his heart he knows what's going on here in the senate has been wrong. and he may criticize the majority leader for working to change the rules here, but, madam president, they've been changed before, they're going to be changed again. it simply is not working and who can complain about majority vote? who can complain about that? someone talks about this filibuster as if it's something that's engraifn someplace along -- graven someplace along with the ten commandments. but it's not in the constitution, it's something we've developed in the senate for rules. it helped to get legislation passed but my friend, the republicans the last number of years have used it to defeat legislation. so these nominations should have been approved, we shouldn't have to go through all this and we won't have to in the future. mr. alexander: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee.
7:02 pm
mr. alexander: i appreciate the courtesy of the majority leader in allowing him to ask him a question and i have more to say about this whole subject but let me go back to my point. there are 14 -- there are 13 district judges on the calendar. on november 21 when we last met. there are 13 district judges. there's only one person in this chamber who can bring a judge from the calendar to the floor for confirmation, that is the majority leader. why did he not bring them all up? why didn't he move them? because under our rules, all he has to do is make a motion that so and so district judge be confirmed. we have to wait one day wetland then one hour of debate and never in the history of the country according to the congressional research service has a district judge been denied his or her seat because of a failed cloture, because of a filibuster. i know this from personal
7:03 pm
experience because a judge named mcconnell from rhode island was nominated by president obama at the recommendation of the rhode island senators, and there were a number on this side who said we should filibuster the judge. i thought not. i argued to all of the republicans that we never had ton done that in history and we ought not to do it and ought not to start it. so what has happened? i believe with all respect the majority leader has manufacturing the crisis. there is no crisis with those 13 district judges. he's the one who could bring them up. he could have done it on thursday the day he changed the rules, friday would be the intervening day, the maximum amount of debate the democrats could require on each of the judges would be one hour so in 13 hours before midnight tonight they could all be district judges. and they were sitting on the calendar waiting for the majority leader to move. an hour the same is true with the subcabinet members. but let's just stay with the
7:04 pm
district judges for a minute because i know i'm right about this because i've sat down with the senate historian, with the congressional research service, i said has there ever been a president's nominee of a federal district judge who has not been confirmed because of a failed cloture vote and the answer is zero. not for president obama, not for president bush, not for are president clinton, not for any president. and because senator reid, the distinguished majority leader, believed that the district judges were moving too slowly through the senate, we changed the rules this past year. we said that with district judges, once there's a cloture vote -- and remember, no why judge has ever been denied his seat because of a cloture vote. once there's a cloture vote there can only be two hours of debate, one for the minority and one for the majority. so this is a manufactured crisis. that's what was done in order to do what the democrat majority
7:05 pm
did on november 21, si which is the most stunning development in the history of the united states senate in terms of a rules change and i intend to talk about that tonight and i want through some very specific facts. not speeches, not something made up but facts. and i'm glad that the majority leader moved four district jz just because every one of the other nine might ask mr. majority leader, why did you not move my name? why are you leaving me out? because you could move it on monday, wait a day and on wednesday you can confirm every single one of the judges there. the reason was because the majority leader wanted to make it look like there was a problem here so he could do as senator levin said we did on november 21 over the objection of 48 senators, the democratic majority established a precedent that the senate can change the rules any time it wants to for
7:06 pm
any reason it wants to, which in effect creates a senate without rules. so i want to speak a little bit tonight, madam president, about how i and other senators are expected to serve in a senate with no -- with no rules. yesterday was a pretty exciting day in the national football league. there were a lot of close games. the ravens and the vikings scored five touchdowns in two minutes and one second. and in pittsburgh, miami was ahead when the steelers' antonio brown raced into the end zone after a sears of lateral passes, they start throwing passes to each other, rarely works. every now and then it works and it appeared to in this case. because brown was the last one with the ball, he got into the end zone before time expired except the officials ruled he had stepped out of bounds before
7:07 pm
scoring. now, madam president, what if pittsburgh had said yesterday wait a minute, we're the home team, we'll change the rules. and say if you ten out of bounds only once as you're running towards the end zone with lateral passes on the last play of the game, then you score. so pittsburgh wins the game. or what if they said we're the home team, we'll add five minutes and see if we can win the game in that five minutes. they'd be happy in pittsburgh yesterday. but maybe not for a long time. but what happens when miami becomes the home team? and pittsburgh goes to miami to play. and miami changes the rules in the middle of the game so miami can win. and what happens to the game of professional football? if the home team could change the rules in the middle of the game to get the result it wants. the national football league knows, they spend a lot of time on rules. they know if there is no integrity for the rules, there's no integrity for the game and pretty soon, the fans
7:08 pm
don't watch the game because the game has no integrity. that's why the envelope goes -- nfl goes to such great lengths about its rules. there are officials all over the field. they're standing in the -- you know, right in the middle of the play. there's an instant review of every call they make. when they make a call, they h.u.d.el to see if they interpreted the rule right. if a coach doesn't like it, he has an opportunity to challenge the rule. if -- someone up in the box who looks at that and reviews it. today, monday morning, in new york in the national football league office, senior retired officials get together and they review every single call and every single no call that was made yesterday in every league game. and they grade every single official based on those calls and rarely does anyone get 100%.
7:09 pm
the nfl is in a constant review of the rules because if there is no integrity to the rules, they know there's no integrity to the game, there will be no fans. i say this because on thursday, the last day we were here, november 21, before senators went home for thanksgiving, the democratic majority destroyed the rules of the united states senate. with all of the republican members opposed and three democratic members opposed, the senate voted 52-48 to invoke the so-called nuclear option. allowing a majority of senators present and voting -- so not necessarily 51 -- to approve presidential nominees except for supreme court justices. for those positions this eliminated the filibuster, which required 60 votes to proceed to an up-or-down majority vote. that's just what senator reid went through a few minutes ago. he said we'll move for a cloture, have an intervening
7:10 pm
day and then a cloture vote before thursday, before november 21 that took 60 votes. although as i said in the case of federal district judges it had never been used to deny a seat but now it only takes a majority of those present and voting. this was the most dangerous restructuring of senate rules since thomas jefferson wrote the rules. because it creates a perpetual opportunity for what alexis de tocqueville called when he traveled our country in the 1830's, one of the greatest threats to our democracy, and that is the tyranny of the majority. this stunning rules change by the senate majority can best be described as obamacare two. one of the things that americans really didn't like about the new health care law, obamacare, was that it was passed in the dead of night by a purely partisan vote during a snowstorm. it showed that those who had the
7:11 pm
votes could do whatever they want no matter what the minority thought and we can see the results. millions of americans having their policies canceled, next year tens of millions will, those who get their insurance through employers. this is another example of that kind of power play. this kind of the goal was to help the administration and the democratic majority advance its radical agenda unchecked through the courts and the executive agencies. as the senator from michigan, senator levin, said -- quoting, a quorummer republican senator, senator vandenberg, senator levin is a democrat, said if the majority of the senate can changed the rules at any time, there are no rules. if a majority of the senate can change its rules at any time, there are no rules. just as if pittsburgh, the home team could change its rules at any time there shall no rules to the game. every child knows there have to be rules to the game. so i have this question.
7:12 pm
how am i and other senators supposed to serve in the united states senate with no rules? how is this different from what could have happened in pittsburgh if they changed the rules in the middle of the game or if the red sox finding themselves behind in the ninth inning added a few innings to make sure they beat the cardinals in world series? and the senate future majorities could do whatever they want to end the filibuster for legislation removing any sibel to the tyranny of the majority. just as -- if there were no integrity to the rules of football, there could be no integrity to the game and there would be no fans, if there is no integrity to the rules of the senate, there is no integrity to the senate and no respect for this part of our system of government. i think i was not overstating it when i said this was the most dangerous changes to the rules since thomas jefferson wrote them and when he did write the rules, madam president, he had this to say about why we have
7:13 pm
rules. his words are in the senate rule book every single one of us has and hopefully have read at least the beginning parts of. this is at the very first. it's worth reading. it's entitled by jefferson "the importance of adhering to rules." and remember, the argument here is not about the filibuster. it's about how the rule was changed. the importance of adhering to rules. i'm going to read a little bit of this. according to thomas jefferson, when he wrote the senate rules, mr. onslow, the ablest of speakers of the house of commons was a maximum imhe heard from old and experienced members, that nothing tended to throw more power into the hands of administration and those who acted with the majority of the house of commons than the neglect of or departure from the rules of proceeding. that these forms as instituted by our ancestors operated as a
7:14 pm
check and control on the actions of the majority and that they were in many instances a shelter and a protection to the minority against the attempts of power. this is thomas jefferson. writing about the importance of rules when he wrote the senate rules. continuing, "so far, the maximum imis certainly true and is founded in good sense that as it is always in the power of the majority by their numbers to stop any improper measures proposed on the part of their opponents, the only weapons by which the minority can be defended itself against similar attempts from those in power are the forms and rules of proceeding which have been adopted as they were found necessary from time to time and are become the law of the house. by a strict adherence to which the weaker party can only be protected from those irregularities and abuses which these forms were intended to check and which the wantness of power is but too often apartment
7:15 pm
to suggest to large and successful majorities." i would think a majority that claims to protect the rights of minorities would be interested in these words of jefferson. and especially in the following words, "and whether these forms are in all cases the most rational or not is not of great importance. it is much more material, thomas jefferson said, that there should be a rule to go by than what the rule is. it is much more material, thomas jefferson wrote, that there should be a rule to go by than what the rule is. that there should be a uniformity in proceeding and business not the subject to the caprice of the speaker or the capciousness of the members. it. that was thomas jefferson on the importance of senate rules when he wrote them. at the beginning of our country and the majority has set a
7:16 pm
precedent that destroys those rules, that destroys the integrity of the rules. because a senate in which a majority can change the rules at any time for any reason is a senate with no rules. that is why it is not too much to say, madam president, that the democratic majority has created a perpetual opportunity for the tyranny of the majority. the majority can do anything it wants any time it wants, in this case it wanted to stack the federal court that hears most of the challenges to its radical regulatory agenda with judges who believe in that agenda. who knows what the next power plant will be -- power play will be? first, obamacare. then obamacare ii. the change of the rules. but what we do know is that this majority has set an unprecedented precedent, that they have set the precedent to do whatever they want to do any time they want to do it,
7:17 pm
they've created a senate without rules. let's talk a little bit about what the justification might be for such a stunning action. because there are so many words thrown around that don't represent facts at all that somehow i wonder at this. for example, the democrats complain their radical action was warranted because the senate is broken. i agree with that and i'll explain why i think so. but their reason is that president obama's appointees have been unfairly denied seats by failed cloture votes or filibuster. the charge was, you heard the majority leader just a few minutes ago, things have gotten so bad that this republican majority has treated president obama unfairly by denying his nominees their seats by failed cloture votes or filibusters. madam president, the democrats have gotten themselves in a room and convinced each other this is
7:18 pm
true but it is flat-out not true. according to the congressional research service, and i've researched this for several months, i've asked them this question: have there ever been any supreme court nominees by any president who have been denied his her or -- or her seat by a filibuster? the answer is no, it's zero. there's one possible exception. abe forthas was -- fortas was nominated by lyndon johnson as chief justice. the nomination was in trouble on both sides of the aisle and to help abe fortas save face president johnson engineered a cloture vote, i think the vote was 47-46, they called that a win to help abe save face. but certainly president obama's nominees have not been denied their seats by a failed cloture
7:19 pm
vote. neither has any other president's. have there ever been any cabinet members, madam president, of president obama or any other president who have been denied their seats by a failed cloture vote or by a filibuster? according to the congressional research service, the answer is no. the number is zero. there have been no cabinet members denied their seats in the obama administration by a failed cloture vote. have there ever been any district judges, federal district judges denied their seats by a failed cloture vote? for president obama or any other president? the answer is zero. the answer is zero. so supreme court justices with the fortas exception maybe, cabinet members, federal district judges, never in the history of president obama and
7:20 pm
never in the history of this country have a president's nominations been denied by filibuster. that's interesting. why did we go to this stunning, radical move on november 21 ? well, maybe it was because of subcabinet members. how many of those have been denied their seats by a filibuster? according to the congressional research service? two of president obama's. three of president clinton's. -- of president bush's, george w. bush. and two of president clinton's. that's a total of seven in the history of united states senate. when a filibuster has said to a subcabinet member, we're going to deny you your seat because of a filibuster or a failed cloture vote. so president obama has been treated about exactly the same as his last two predecessors. and in all of those i've just
7:21 pm
mentioned, we've only found among cabinet members, district judges, among supreme court justices and subcabinet members, two obama nominees who've been denied their seats because a failed cloture vote. now, that is a fact, madam president. that is not a piece of republican propaganda. that comes from the congressional research service. so why is there a fuss about this? well, maybe it's because of the federal circuit judges. well, let's talk about that. as for appeals court judges, republican filibusters have blocked five, have blocked five. well, when did that -- when did that happen? that happened, madam president, as a result of what happened in 2003, the year i came to the senate. then democrats got together and said, we think bush's nominees are too conservative so for the first time in the history of the senate, we're going to block 10
7:22 pm
of president bush's nominees basically because they're too conservative. i knew some of these judges. i used to clerk on the fifth circuit court of appeal for judge john monor wisdom. i knew the respect he had for judge pryor, i knew mr. pickering who had really been a pioneer for civil rights in the state of mississippi in the 1960's and 1970's when it was hard to be. the truth was the majority of democrats said, we're going t to -- we're going to block 10 of the bush judges. never been done before, but we're going to do it with a cloture vote. well, madam president, as you can guess, everyone on the republican side in the majority then got very excited. and the majority leader, senator frist, said, we're going to change the rules, do something that senator lott, a majority leader once said, was the nuclear option. and there was great
7:23 pm
consternation. senator reid said -- he recounts this very well in his book -- in 2006, he said, to do so would be the end of the senate. i made two speeches, madam president. i suggested, well, this is a terrible thing to do. a president ought to have an up-or-down vote on his circuit judges. so why don't we see if we can't get a few republicans and a few democrats and just take it out of the hands of the leaders and agree that we'll only use the filibuster on circuit judges in extraordinary circumstances, which was the result. so i had said at the time i would never vote for a filibuster on a circuit judge. i adjusted my view to be the same as the senate precedent that came out of the gang of 14. the 10 bush judges, of those, five were not confirmed; five were confirmed.
7:24 pm
so in 2003, the democratic senators for the first time in history refused to confirm five presidential nominees for the federal court of appeals by cloture vote, by filibuster. and the expected happened. over time, the republicans now have blocked five. so republicans and democrats are even. when you start something, things that have a way of coming back around. and what the democrats said was a fair thing to do in 2003 and 2004 the republicans now say is a fair thing to do. if the democrats think the republican nominees are too conservative, they'll block five of them, and we'll say if we think the -- president obama's nominees are too liberal, why, then, we'll block five of them. and we put in the trash heap the tradition that we never use the
7:25 pm
filibuster on federal courts of appeals judges. now, the majority leader and others have said, well, that's not the only problem. the problem is that president obama has had to wait too long to get his judges confirmed. again, that's not true either. that's not true either. this is another case that the democrats apparently have gotten themselves in a room and convinced each other that something isn't true, is true. according to the congressional research service, president obama's second term cabinet nominees have been confirmed at about the same pace as president bush's cabinet nominees and president clinton's cabinet nominees. i heard the majority leader say the other day, use the example of the distinguished secretary of defense, former member of this body, senator hagel as an
7:26 pm
example of delay. well, let me -- let me comment on that, if i may. senator hagel's nomination was reported to the senate floor the day after it was reported by the armed services committee, the majority leader filed cloture and called that a filibuster. now, many republican senators -- i watched the senator from arizona, the senator from south carolina and others say on the floor to the majority leader, that is premature. you're cutting off debate before we've had a chance to consider the secretary of defense of this country. and if you'll allow us more time -- at that time we were going into the president's day recess for a week -- we'll cut off debate the day we come back and them we'll have an up-or-down vote. but no, the majority leader and the white house said, ram it through. so they insisted on a vote. the vote was turned down. he calls that a filibuster.
7:27 pm
i call it cutting off debate. cutting off debate prematurely. i mean, why in the world wouldn't you allow a secretary of defense to be on the floor for more than one day before you cut off the debate prematurely and call it a filibuster? the majority leader said, well, we could be attacked. i think he must have forgotten we had a perfectly adequate secretary of defense in place, leon panetta, until the next one was confirmed. and he was going to be confirm confirmed. because the democrats had a majority of votes to do that and a cabinet member had never been denied his or her seat because of a failed cloture vote. i want to keep coming back to that. a cabinet member has never been denied that. a cabinet member will be confirmed after awhile, after you have questions. in that case, it was one day. now, in my case 20 years ago when president bush nominated for the education secretary and there was a democratic senate, i was announced in december,
7:28 pm
nominated in january, and it was march before some of the democratic senators saw fit to give me a vote. and i was confirmed by unanimous consent. during that time, i tried to get ready for our education program. it gave me some time to work. when president reagan nominated ed middle east to b mease to be, it took a year before the democratic -- before the senate confirmed ed mease, but it confirmed him. there have been some cabinet members who've withdrawn their names because they've become embarrassed or for some other reason. but if the question is, has a failed cloture vote ever been used to deny a cabinet member his or her seat? the answer is no. in the case of secretary hagel, i would think that one day is not quite long enough to file a motion to cut off debate and claim it's a filibuster. what about judges? has the senate been slow on judges? this year the senate has confirmed 36 of the president's
7:29 pm
second-term nominees to circuit and district courts compared with 14 for president bush at this point in his second term in 2005. these things are never exact because there are vacancies for a variety of reasons. that's a pretty big difference. very hard to argue that it's unfair. but the majority leader did argue successfully that the minority was holding up district judges in order to negotiate for other points. he did that in the second time that a bipartisan group of us sat down to talk about how to change the senate rules so we could move along better. and so what the senate agreed to do earlier this year was to change the rules to make it easier to confirm district judges. here's the procedure. remember, first they have to be on the calendar.
7:30 pm
how do they get on the calendar? a committee majority puts them on the calendar. what party has the majority in the judiciary committee? the judiciary committee majority is democratic. that puts them on the calendar. so democrats put them on the calendar. only the majority leader can take them off the calendar, and when he does that, he has no motion to proceed, he just takes them right off, just like he did tonight. and if he wants to, he can just bring them up and ask consent that they be approved, which they often are. i'm told by the republican leader's office that when the majority leader rammed the rules change through on november 21st, there were about 40 or so noncontroversial so-called nominees who were about to be confirmed, including many district judges. but tonight the majority leader has selected four of the 13 district judges that are on the calendar and made a big show out of the fact that we're going to
7:31 pm
take an intervening day tomorrow and then we're going to vote on them i guess beginning on wednesday. well, under the rules change that he asked for, the debate on each one of those can only be two hours and it's divided evenly, which means the democrats have an hour and the republicans have an hour. the democrats to want speed things up, they can give their hour back. on a noncontroversial judge, republicans normally wouldn't say anything except a word or two of praise. but let's say the republicans are upset by the rules change and were to say, we'll take that whole hour? the democrats could say two or three minutes of praise for the district judge and we could confirm those four in four hou hours. i mean, that's half a day's work. and the question i asked the majority leader was what about the other nine? what about the other nine district judges who are sitting there on this calendar, put there by the democrat in the
7:32 pm
majority judiciary committee. only one person could bring them up for a vote. he could bring them up today. tomorrow would be the intervening day. we could vote on wednesday and vote them all. he could have brought every single district judge up on last thursday when he turned the senate into a place that has no rules. friday would have been the intervening day and we could have been voting all day today and by the time we went home for supper every single district judge would be confirmed because of the rules change. the only reason i can see to go through all this is to manufacture a crisis to make the american people think that somehow the minority is abusing its privileges. i read the executive calendar on november 21 very carefully. remember, this is the document that's on every senator's desk. you have to be on here in order to be confirmed. if you're an executive nominee, the only person who can bring you up is the majority leader. the same with a legislative.
7:33 pm
so these are legislative matters require a motion of consent. there were only 16 on the calendar who had been there three weeks and only eight more who had been there more than nine weeks. and two of the eight were being held up by democratic senators. that's hardly, hardly a crisis. finally let me address the claim that the majority leader just didn't take seriously. the republicans have unfairly blocked the president from filling vacancies on the u.s. court of appeals for the d.c. circuit. remember, i pointed out that the democrats started this by saying that if president bush nominates judges that are too conservative, we'll block them. so the republicans now have blocked an equal number of president obama's judges. but that's not the primary reason for blocking it. the primary reason is stated in a letter written on july 27,
7:34 pm
2006, to the chairman of the judiciary committee, a republican, senator specter, from all of the democratic members of the judiciary committee. president bush had nominated someone for this same court. the district of columbia federal court. and this is what the democratic senator said in 2006. "we believe that mr. keesler should under no circumstances be considered much less confirmed by this committee before we address the very need for that judgeship, receive and review necessary information about the nominee and deal with the genuine judicial emergencies identified by the judicial conference. in other words, what the democrats were saying, and it included a number of the most distinguished members of this body, the chairman, senator leahy, senator schumer, senator feingold, senator feinstein, senator cole, senator kennedy, senator durbin, senator biden.
7:35 pm
they were saying that this court, the d.c. court, is an important court, but its workload is half the national average of all the courts. it doesn't need any more judges. and before we add any more judges to a court that's underworked, we ought to consider transferring those judgeships to courts that are overworked. that argument had been made since 2001 by senator grassley, the senator from iowa. and finally with bipartisan cooperation in 2007, he achieved some success. with president bush's agreement, the republican president, he agreed with the democratic senators that the d.c. circuit should under no circumstances -- that's their words in their letter -- have more judges. they reduced it by one, the number of judges, and they transferred a judge to the ninth
7:36 pm
circuit, which was overworked. so all republicans have said about the three judges who the president has nominated to the d.c. circuit is before we consider any of them, consider senator grassley's bill. do in 2013 what you said we should do in 2006 and 2007 and which we did in a bipartisan way. how can you dismiss this when republicans are asking to do in 2013 exactly what the democrats successfully insisted on in 2006, which is to transfer judges from the courts where they're not needed to the courts where they are needed. in fact, the d.c. circuit has a lower caseload by comparison today than it did in 2007 when by bipartisan agreement it was considered underworked. democrats didn't think it was
7:37 pm
unfair then to insist that we not appoint more judges to a court that was underworked. it must be they're trying to manufacture a crisis now. so if there's no good reason -- if there's no good reason to change the rules in such a dramatic way as the majority did on november 21, why would the majority leader insist on cramming through in a power play a rules change that in 2006 he said would be the end of the senate? because the vote, madam president, was not about the filibuster. all that is pretext. the vote was about allowing the majority to do whatever it wants to do any time it wants to do it. one of the things the american people detested about obamacare, as i said earlier, was that it was crammed through in the middle of the night in a partisan power play, and you can
7:38 pm
see the results. unlike the civil rights bill which had a broad bipartisan support, i can remember senator dirksen and president johnson working together on it when it required 67 votes in the senate. and because it achieved that consensus, senator russell went home, the great opponent of the bill, to georgia and said it's the law of the land; we should now support it. when you cram through a big social change or any big change through the congress, you're going to get the kind of result you get with obamacare today. millions of people losing their policies. tens of millions will next year. great concern. web site not working, that's what you'll get when you cram things through in a partisan way. and the democrats have done it again. so the filibuster was not the problem, then why is the senate not functioning better? why are we so low in public opinion polls? frankly, madam president, it's because of the senate leadership. i've had the privilege over the
7:39 pm
years of watching the united states senate. i came here -- i came here for the first time in 1967 as an aide to senator howard baker, the future majority leader of the senate. i watched senator mansfield and senator dirksen. i washed senator byrd and senator baker. i watched senator daschle, senator lott, senator frist. i wasn't in the senate all that time. i've only been here since 2003, but i've seen it over that time up close. all of them, all of them could operate this body very well under the rules we had until thursday of two weeks ago. until november 21. i was at the rules committee meeting when senator byrd, former majority leader, acknowledges the great historian of the senate. he came. he could barely speak, but he
7:40 pm
had one last message for the senate, and it was don't change the filibuster. he called it the necessary fence against the excesses of the executive and the popular will. that was what senator byrd said. and he also said that under the current -- under the rules we had until november 21, that a majority leader could operate the senate if he wanted to. the current majority leader seems to be unable to do that, and we saw an example of it here tonight. he brings up four district judges. while there are 13 on the calendar, he can have brought them up on november 21. we could have been voting on all of them today. but he's parceling them out as if there was a crisis somewhere. why is he doing that? i don't see why he is doing that. it's not the way to make the
7:41 pm
senate function. it is not what senator byrd would do. it's not what senator baker would do. i saw them come in and open up senate to the amendments, put a bill on the floor, ask for amendments. here came 300 amendments. ask for unanimous consent to cut off amendments. they got unanimous consent because nobody could think of any other amendments. and then senator byrd would say, and senator baker did as well, all right, let's start voting. and vote, vote, vote, vote. we get to about wednesday or thursday, senators would think maybe my amendment's not so important. by friday when it was clear that the majority leader was going to finish the bill this week, they dropped the amendment and we got it done. so the senate was a place, not perfect, things were still bumpy. there was senator metzenbaum sitting on the front row objecting. there was senator williams before him, senator allen before him, exercising their rights. but the majority leader was able to do that. the senate worked on mondays.
7:42 pm
it worked on fridays. worked at night. and the threat of that usually caused people who were trying to not show a proper amount of restraint and use their privileges to back down. instead what the current majority leader does, and you heard him tonight, he complains about obstructionism when there isn't any. certainly not on nominations. we're only talking about nominations here tonight. and i'm not going to say that senators on both sides of the aisle have abused their privileges and slowed the senate down. but he complains about obstructionism when in fact he's become the obstructionist in chief by making it more difficult for those of us who are elected from our states to represent the people who have a right to be heard. 77 times this majority leader has cut off amendments in a body whose whole purpose is to amend,
7:43 pm
debate, and vote. i call it a gag rule. with the majority cutting off the right of american voices to be heard on the senate floor. 114 times he's filed a motion to cut off debate on the same day he's introduced a bill, and he calls that a filibuster. i call it a gag rule. he's bypassed senate committees in an unprecedented way. 76 times in the last six years. he set himself up as the king of the senate. may i offer an amendment on iran, a senator might ask? no. may i offer an amendment on egypt? no. how about an amendment on obamacare? what about a bill on the national labor relations board? no. can we work on appropriations bills? no. only one person deciding what happens here when in fact the history of the senate has been a place of virtually unlimited debate on virtually any amendment. that's been the history of the
7:44 pm
united states senate. it's different than the house of representatives. it has been different than every other body in the world. it operates by unanimous consent, and it requires restraint which hasn't always been given. but majority leaders who have been effective have found their way to deal with that. and i've spent the last three years doing my best to work on helping to make this place function. i cannot say, madam president, where this rules change on november 21 will lead, but it is heading he in a dangerous direction, a direction that is dangerous for the senate and dangerous for our country. this is a country that prizes the rule of law. other countries around the world that don't have it wish they were here, wish they had a country with a rule of law. so in a country that prizes the rule of law, we now have a senate without any rules because the senate majority has decided
7:45 pm
for the first time that a majority can change the rules at any time, any reason it wants, which makes this a body without rules. in a country that yearns for solutions on iran, on health care, on our debt crisis, we have a king of the senate saying no amendments, no debate. i'll make all the decisions. i know of only one cure for this dangerous trend, madam president, and that is one word: an election. the election of six new republican senators so power plays like obamacare and november 21 rules change will be ended, and the senate will again be alive with bills, amendments and debates reflecting the will of the american people on the important issues of our time. madam president, i ask consent to rule in the record -- to
7:46 pm
include in the record the letter from the year 2006 from senator -- the democratic senators on the judiciary committee saying that there should be new judges added to the d.c. court of appeals because it's underworked. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. "washingto"
7:47 pm
7:48 pm
7:49 pm
7:50 pm
continues. tomorrow. "washingto" host: we are joined now by jeffrey young a health-care stporterrom he hfingn >> thanks for being with us. >> my pleasure. >> healthcare obviously a big topic in the news. what pastor of the affordable care act affects medicaid recipients. >> this is supposed to be a fairly simple question the a fairly simple question to answer. $15,000 and change that
7:51 pm
we're supposed to secure coverage for anyone. they did not have to be disabled. it is a patchwork of requirements in all of the states and d.c. the supreme court upheld the rest of the law last year saying states could opt out of the extension. about half the states are doing it. host: why only half the states? guest: it is almost entirely a partisan issue. there are a couple of republican governors they got behind this and a few democrats that were not able to get their legislators on board with it. there are a lot of reasons cited by opponents of the expansion. mainly it comes down to money. the government is paying the
7:52 pm
entire cost of the expansion. states will pick up 10% in future years. for some states, that 10% is more than they wanted to spend. host: we are talking to jeffrey young, health-care reporter for "the huffington post." the number for republicans, 202- 585-3881. democrats, 202-585-3880. .ndependent, 202-585-3882 bobby jindal. let's listen to what he had to say. [video clip] >> we made the right decision not to expand medicaid. we are building a bottom-up alternative, delivering better health care for our people.
7:53 pm
host: your take. guest: they are not expanding coverage to uninsured residents. if you think that is important, it is not going to accomplish that. he may not want to spend the money on that. there are concerns about not enough primary care doctors. there may be interesting things with health care delivery at the state level in the way that medicaid is carried out. know where are they attempting to get health coverage to these folks, with one possible exception in wisconsin. scott walker has shifted some of the medicaid people onto the exchanges and offered medicaid. that may be on hold because of
7:54 pm
the problems at the federal exchanges. host: when you look at these decisions, who is making the decision, the governor or someone else? guest: for the most part it is governors who were never interested in the first place, like governor bobby jindal. the legislatures were on board. republican majorities did not want to do it, either. there may have been bills put forward but they did not go anywhere. in florida and new hampshire and missouri. in some cases, the governor of kentucky was able to do the expansion by fiat.
7:55 pm
just about a month ago, john k- asick used a fairly obscure budget panel made up of lawmakers and other folks who were able to sign off on this expansion. all that entails is the state excepting a bunch of federal money and carrying out the expansion. is on our line for republicans. caller: how are you guys doing this morning? host: good morning. caller: i have a question. i was wondering if you are foring the red states opting out? which side do you lean on? you seem more on the liberal side this morning. if you could answer those two
7:56 pm
basic questions. guest: in addition to the budgetary matters, the political dynamic right now about the affordable care act is that for the most part republican politicians at the state and federal level do not want to be associated with this law. what you see in a lot of cases makers saying we do not like this thing. "our voters do not like this. i do not want my fingerprints near this." if they expand medicare, i think they feel they would share the blame for it. if it goes well, there is no downside for them. they can come back and do it next year or the year after
7:57 pm
that. those lawmakers or governors decide if they would go in that direction. host: dale is on our line for independents. caller: good morning. i just got approved for asability, which is $1228 month. i was told i have to give them $594 a month to get any kind of medical coverage. toi do that, i cannot afford feed myself or pay my rent. i do not understand how this is affordable for somebody like me. i will wait for your answer off air. guest: i do not know enough about ohio's rule and how that
7:58 pm
fits in with other programs like disability insurance to know the situation. one thing the affordable care is basesupposed to do your eligibility entirely on your income and not on your assets. for some people, it should limited the problem of having to spend down your assets. you have too much money and your car is worth too much and therefore it is determined you are not eligible. host: a recent headline in politico --
7:59 pm
host: walk us through that scenario. guest: before the affordable care act, if you want to sign for medicaid, which goes by different names in different states, you went to a state agency and they would enroll you. or nois one stop shopping wrong door. you go looking for health insurance. you sign up to the website and you are good to go. the government which is running the exchanges is supposed to forward your information to a state agency which will then enroll you. the data that is going out to the states is not complete. states are concerned they will get information from people, sign them up, and later
8:00 pm
determine they were not eligible. this is similar to the problem with flawed data going to private agencies. we will not know for a few weeks it fits into a larger story for what we have known for a few weeks about some number of people who believe they are going to be signed up for health coverage next month to find out partly that they are not because of systems failures outside of their line of sight.

tv
Key Capitol Hill Hearings
CSPAN December 9, 2013 6:30pm-8:01pm EST

Series/Special. Speeches from policy makers and coverage from around the country. (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Mr. Reid 43, Undersigned 9, Mr. Alexander 8, Bush 8, Pittsburgh 7, Thomas Jefferson 7, Tennessee 7, Montana 7, United States Senate 6, Virginia 5, Byrd 5, Miami 4, Clinton 4, Us 3, New York 3, Frist 3, Reid 3, Madam 3, Hagel 3, Baker 3
Network CSPAN
Duration 01:31:00
Rating TV-MA
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel v109
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color


disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 12/9/2013
Views
36